Handmade Highlight (Nikki McKenzie Photography)

Y'all. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this highlight. Like I have a huge grin on my face and want to jump up and down. The girl behind this photography business I am about to introduce you to is AWESOME. She has become one of my best and dearest friends here in Starkville. She is an artist and sees beauty is the most simple things and places. She loves Jesus, and her husband, and is just a great friend to me. I wish so badly you could sit down with her over coffee (she loves it just as much if not more than me) and get to know her. Meet Nikki. 

Like I said, this is a girl worth knowing. She is so genuine and kind hearted, and this shines through in her work. She has a passion for great photography, and is so talented at what she does. Nikki and her husband Matt are a part of the church plant that I work for! Ben and I love this couple. ALSO, this is who will be taking our picnic inspired anniversary pictures very soon! Cannot wait!

As always I have conducted a little interview with Nikki so you can get to know her a little better. 

What inspired you to pursue photography?

First off, THANK YOU so much for having me, Rachel! I so appreciate your generosity in having me, and am so thankful for your friendship. :) 

I have always enjoyed taking photos and in high school I was able to take a darkroom class. As cliche as it sounds, I fell in love with it but never really believed it was a career opportunity for me. A few months after that, I saw a photograph by Jerome Delay - he's a photojournalist who travels the world, and the image stopped me in my tracks. The image was of Congolese orphans.  I'd never seen anything so heartbreaking and beautiful. That images inspired me to do 2 things:

1. become the absolute best photographer I can be so I can help others in some way 
2. adopt
Since then, I've slowly been working towards those two things, and while I've definitely gotten side tracked at times,  the Lord has faithfully continued to reveal His plan, which doesn't always look like my plan, but is always good. 

What has been the greatest joy for you in photography?

Hmmm... I love being able to use it as a gift. Photos are so important to me, as I think they are to a lot of people. Whether it's something as monumental as a wedding day, or as "small" as the first day of school and the new outfit you get to wear, those are sweet, special moments that are worth preserving and remembering. 

I also love the way photography tells stories....Photos can speak in a different way than words. Capturing those images, while greatly challenging, is something I love to do and continually strive for. 

What are your favorite pictures to take?

I love photographing people. Something about getting to learn about a person through my lens is just awesome. However, while I'm not a landscape photographer, I love taking pictures of them...Can I have two favorites? :)

How do you stay inspired as a photographer?

Light. I am in awe of it, I get excited just thinking about it. Light is the essence of photography - sometimes it's center stage and loud in a photograph, other times it's subtle. Nevertheless, it is what makes or breaks a photograph (in my opinion). If you were to photograph just one object in 12 different lighting situations, you'd have 12 very different photographs. Light creates drama, emotion, and mood. It evokes feelings; excitement, romance, fear.... And, it makes sense because the word photograph literary means to draw with light. 

What is one thing the Lord is teaching you right now?

Ahh.... He's really been teaching me patience, as well as to trust Him and His timing, that He is the Blessed Controller and working all thing for my good and His glory. I'm a slow learner, but Praise the Lord He is FAITHFUL!

What is one piece of advice you would give to small business owners?

Don't get discouraged. Of everything I've read of starting a photography business (and I'm sure this applies to most small businesses), it takes 5 (FIVE) years to really get things going. Five years of lots of long nights, hard work, and disappointments. But, those years are so important. I think those years teach you if you really want it, or rather if the Lord would have that for you. 

Another thing (even though I know it says one piece of advice - these things go hand in hand) is don't compare yourself to others. This is SO hard (believe me, I know!). But it really is SO important. Look at other's work to get inspired, but not to compare yourself to them. God gave you your gifts, not their gifts. Look back at where you started, and be encouraged at how you've grown. 

I am blown away by the talent of this sweet friend. Want to see more of Nikki's work? Check her out here! 

or email her at: nikki.j.mckenzie@gmail.com (FYI, this is the best way to get in touch with her. She does have a full time job and tries to keep personal calls to a minimum during the day. However, she does have regular access to email and can usually respond within 24 hours.)

Thanks so much Nikki for letting me share your talent! It is a joy to know you and I cannot wait to have you photograph Ben and I in the days ahead! :)

A Harvest of Blessing

Check out my sweet sponsor Jenni this month! Also, link up with us for Tuesday Tea!